This post on Sacred Marriage: The Cleansing of Marriage was written by Jeffrey Chen, who is pursuing a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeffrey has a passion for sharing God’s love with those around him. He blogs at The Wayvy Life.
Welcome back to our series on the novel “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas. This week, we will be discussing Chapter Seven, titled “The Cleansing of Marriage: How Marriage Exposes Our Sin”. This chapter talks about how being married reveals to us more about our own flaws and shortcomings. Notice that it is NOT about how marriage shows us how messed up and imperfect our spouse is. Instead, the focus is on ourselves and how marriage exposes our sin, and the potential for a cleansing process once we become more aware of our sin.
Thomas notes that you can’t hide in marriage. You are essentially under 24/7 surveillance. Not necessarily because your partner is always keeping tabs on you intentionally to make sure you’re not doing anything you’re not supposed to be doing, but just because that is the nature of marriage. Your partner knows what you’re doing throughout your day, what you’re eating, what you’re watching, simply due to the fact that they do life with you. And then, when your day is over, you sleep in the same bed together. There is no escaping! Now, this is not meant to scare you. It is just a reality of marriage that I am sure many of you are familiar with.
However, this inability to hide from your spouse in marriage can be hard. Why? Because you can’t always put on your best self! Unlike when you are dating, you can’t always be putting on a show and pretend to be somebody you’re not all the time. That would be exhausting. Your spouse witnesses the good and the bad of you once you become married and are living together. They see all of your ridiculous habits and behaviors, and soon you see them too. You realize you’re not as patient, clean, selfless, easy-going, or organized as you thought you were! As Thomas puts it, “Marriage forces me to face myself honestly and consider my character flaws, selfishness, and anti-Christian attitudes, encouraging me to grow in Godliness”.
The end of his quote is the good news. While it can certainly be difficult to confront our flaws that we were previously unaware of, it also gives us a tremendous opportunity for what Thomas calls “cleansing”. Once marriage makes you more aware of your sin, you can react in different ways. You can wallow in shame about how awful of a person you are. Or you can blame your spouse and point out all of their flaws. Unfortunately, many people will do one of these first two, which only leads to further individual and marital issues. OR you can see it as an opportunity to change, grow, and become more like Christ. This is what I recommend and what Thomas suggests, writing, “We can use marriage as a spiritual mirror, designed for our sanctification and growth in holiness.” This is the choice of cleansing ourselves through marriage.
As such, I encourage you to not let sin cause destruction in your life. Yes, you are not perfect, but that is not what is important. What is important is how you react to this realization that you are imperfect and always will be. Do you drown yourself in self-hate, or blame others for your failures? Either of these can cause great damage to ourselves and our relationships. Or, do you strive to be better, knowing that while you may never be perfect like Jesus is, you can find joy in the cleansing process that will one day be completed in heaven? I hope you can allow God to work in your life to slowly transform your heart, while also resting in His unconditional love.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me for feedback, questions, suggestions on topics, or anything else. I’m happy to chat about anything and everything. I hope you can take away something helpful from this post. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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